Read CHAPTER VI of Ireland Under Coercion, Vol. I, free online book, by William Henry Hurlbert, on ReadCentral.com.

ENNIS, Saturday, Fe. I found it unnecessary to go on to Paris, and so returned to Ireland on Thursday night; we had a passage as over a lake. In the train I met a lively Nationalist friend, whose acquaintance I made in America. He is a man of substance, but not overburdened with respect for the public men, either of his own party or of the Unionist side. When I asked him whether he still thought it would be safe to turn over Ireland to a Parliament made up of the Westminster members, of whom he gave me such an amusing but by no means complimentary account, he looked at me with astonishment:

“Do you suppose for a moment we would send these fellows to a Parliament in Dublin?”

He told me some very entertaining tales of the methods used by certain well-meaning occupants of the Castle in former days to capture Irish popularity, as, for example, one of a Vice-Queen who gave a fancy dress ball for the children of the local Dublin people of importance, and had a beautiful supper of tea and comfits, and cakes served to them, after which she made her appearance, followed by servants bearing huge bowls of steaming hot Irish potatoes, which she pressed upon the horrified and overstuffed infants as “the true food of the country,” setting them herself the example of eating one with much apparent gusto, and a pinch of salt!

“Now, fancy that!” he exclaimed; “for the Dublin aristocracy who think the praties only fit for the peasants!”

Of a well-known and popular personage in politics, he told me that he once went with him on a canvassing tour. It was in a county the candidate had never before visited. “When we came to a place, and the people were all out crying and cheering, he would whisper to me, ’Now what is the name of this confounded hole?’ And I would whisper back, ‘Ballylahnich,’ or whatever it was. Then he would draw himself up to the height of a round tower, and begin, ’Men of Ballylahnich, I rejoice to meet you! Often has the great Liberator said to me, with tears in his voice, ’Oh would I might find myself face to face with the noble men of Ballylahnich!”

“A great man he is, a great man!

“Did you ever hear how he courted the heiress? He walked up and down in front of her house, and threatened to fight every man that came to call, till he drove them all away!”

A good story of more recent date, I must also note, of a well-known priest in Dublin, who being asked by Mr. Balfour one day whether the people under his charge took for gospel all the rawhead and bloody-bones tales about himself, replied, “Indeed, I wish they only feared and hated the devil half as much as they do you!”

In a more serious vein my Nationalist friend explained to me that for him “Home Rule” really meant an opportunity of developing the resources of Ireland under “the American system of Protection.” About this he was quite in earnest, and recalled to me the impassioned protests made by the then Mayor of Chicago, Mr. Carter Harrison, against the Revenue Reform doctrines which I had thought it right to set forth at the great meeting of the Iroquois Club in that city in 1883. “Of course,” he said, “you know that Mr. Harrison was then speaking not only for himself, but for the whole Irish vote of Chicago which was solidly behind him? And not of Chicago only! All our people on your side of the water moved against your party in 1884, and will move against it again, only much more generally, this year, because they know that the real hope of Ireland lies in our shaking ourselves free of the British Free Trade that has been fastened upon us, and is taking our life.” I could only say that this was a more respectable, if not a more reasonable, explanation of Mr. Alexander Sullivan’s devotion to Mr. Blaine and the Republicans, and of the Irish defection from the Democratic party than had ever been given to me in America, but I firmly refused to spend the night between London and Dublin in debating the question whether Meath could be made as prosperous as Massachusetts by levying forty per cent. duties on Manchester goods imported into Ireland.

He had seen the reception of Mr. Sullivan, M.P., in London. “I believe, on my soul,” he said, “the people were angry with him because he didn’t come in a Lord Mayor’s coach!”

When I told him I meant to visit Luggacurren, he said, a little to my surprise, “That is a bad job for us, and all because of William O’Brien’s foolishness! He always thinks everybody takes note of whatever he says, and that ruins any man! He made a silly threat at Luggacurren, that he would go and take Lansdowne by the throat in Canada, and then he was weak enough to suppose that he was bound to carry it out. He couldn’t be prevented! And what was the upshot of it? But for the Orangemen in Canada, that were bigger fools than he is, he would have been just ruined completely! It was the Orangemen saved him!”

I left Dublin this morning at 7.40 A.M. The day was fine, and the railway journey most interesting. Before reaching Limerick we passed through so much really beautiful country that I could not help expressing my admiration of it to my only fellow-traveller, a most courteous and lively gentleman, who, but for a very positive brogue, might have been taken for an English guardsman.

“Yes, it is a beautiful country,” he said, “or would be if they would let it alone!”

I asked him what he specially objected to in the recent action of Parliament as respects Ireland?

“Object?” he responded; “I object to everything. The only thing that will do Ireland any good will be to shut up that talking-mill at Westminster for a good long while!”

This, I told him, was the remedy proposed by Earl Grey in his recent volume on Ireland.

“Is it indeed? I shall read the book. But what’s the use? ’For judgment it is fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason.’”

This he said most cheerily, as if it really didn’t matter much; and, bidding me good-bye, disappeared at Limerick, where several friends met him. In his place came a good-natured optimistic squire, who thinks “things are settling down.” There is a rise in the price of cattle. “Beasts I gave L8 for three mouths ago,” he said, “I have just sold for L12. I call that a healthy state of things.” And with this he also left me at Ardsollus, the station nearest the famous old monastery of Quin.

At Ennis I was met by Colonel Turner, to whom I had written, enclosing a note of introduction to him. With him were Mr. Roche, one of the local magistrates, and Mr. Richard Stacpoole, a gentleman of position and estate near Ennis, about whom, through no provocation of his, a great deal has been said and written of late years. Mr. Stacpoole at once insisted that I should let him take me out to stay at his house at Edenvale, which is, so to speak, at the gates of Ennis. Certainly the fame of Irish hospitality is well-founded! Meanwhile my traps were deposited at the County Club, and I went about the town. I walked up to the Court-house with. Mr. Roche, in the hope of hearing a case set down for trial to-day, in which a publican named Harding, at Ennis an Englishman, by the way is prosecuted for boycotting. The parties were in Court; and the defendant’s counsel, a keen-looking Irish lawyer, Mr. Leamy, once a Nationalist member, was ready for action; but for some technical reason the hearing was postponed. There were few people in Court, and little interest seemed to be felt in the matter. The Court-house is a good building, not unlike the White House at Washington in style. This is natural enough, the White House having been built, I believe, by an Irish architect, who must have had the Duke of Leinster’s house of Carton, in Kildare, in his mind when he planned it. Carton was thought a model mansion at the beginning of this century; and Mr. Whetstone, a local architect of repute, built the Ennis Court-house some fifty years ago. It is of white limestone from quarries belonging to Mr. Stacpoole, and cost when built about L12,000. To build it now would cost nearly three times as much. In fact, a recent and smaller Court-house at Carlow has actually cost L36,000 within the last few years.

I was struck by the extraordinary number of public-houses in Ennis. A sergeant of police said to me, “It is so all over the country.” Mr. Roche sent for the statistics, from which it appears that Ennis, with a population of 6307, rejoices in no fewer than 100 “publics”; Ennistymon, with a population of 1331, has 25; and Milltown Malbay, with a population of 1400, has 36. At Castle Island the proportion is still more astounding 51 public-houses in a population of 800. In Kiltimagh every second house is a public-house! These houses are perhaps a legacy of the old days of political jobbery. No matter when or why granted, the licence appears to be regarded as a hereditary “right” not lightly to be tampered with; and of course the publicans are persons of consequence in their neighbourhood, no matter how wretched it may be, or how trifling their legitimate business. Three police convictions are required to make the resident magistrates refuse the usual yearly renewal of a licence; and if an application is made against such a renewal, cause must be shown. The “publics” are naturally centres of local agitation, and the publicans are sharp enough to see the advantage to them of this. The sergeant told me of a publican here in Ennis, into whose public came three Nationalists, bent not upon drinking, but upon talking. The publican said nothing for a while, but finally, in a careless way, mentioned “a letter he had just received from Mr. Parnell on a very private matter.” Instantly the politicians were eager to see it. The publican hesitated. The politicians immediately called for drinks, which were served, and after this operation had been three times repeated, the publican produced the letter, began with a line or two, and then said, “Ah, no! it can’t be done. It would be a betrayal of confidence; and you know you wouldn’t have that! But it’s a very important letter you have seen!” So they went away tipsy and happy.

Only yesterday no fewer than twenty-three of these publicans from Milltown Malbay appeared at Ennis here to be tried for “boycotting” the police. One of them was acquitted; another, a woman, was discharged. Ten of them signed, in open court, a guarantee not further to conspire, and were thereupon discharged upon their own recognisances, after having been sentenced with their companions to a month’s imprisonment with hard labour. The magistrate tells me that when the ten who signed (and who were the most prosperous of the publicans) were preparing to sign, the only representative of the press who was present, a reporter for United Ireland, approached them in a threatening manner, with such an obvious purpose of intimidation, that he was ordered out of the court-room by the police. The eleven who refused to sign the guarantee (and who were the poorest of the publicans, with least to lose) were sent to gaol.

An important feature of this case is the conduct of Father White, the parish priest of Milltown Malbay. In the open court, Colonel Turner tells me, Father White admitted that he was the moving spirit of all this local “boycott.” While the court was sitting yesterday all the shops in Milltown Malbay were closed, Father White having publicly ordered the people to make the town “as a city of the dead.” After the trial was over, and the eleven who elected to be locked up had left in the train, Father White visited all their houses to encourage the families, which, from his point of view, was no doubt proper enough; but one of the sergeants reports that the Father went by mistake into the house of one of the ten who had signed the guarantee, and immediately reappeared, using rather unclerical language. All this to an American resembles a tempest in a tea-pot. But it is a serious matter to see a priest of the Church assisting laymen to put their fellow-men under a social interdict, which is obviously a parody on one of the gravest steps the Church itself can take to maintain the doctrine and the discipline of the Faith. What Catholics, if honest, must think of this whole business, I saw curiously illustrated by some marginal notes pencilled in a copy of Sir Francis Head’s Fortnight in Ireland, at the hotel in Gweedore. The author of the Bubbles from the Brunnen published this book in 1852. At page 152 he tells a story, apparently on hearsay, of “boycotting” long before Boycott. It is to the effect that, in order to check the proselyting of Catholics by a combination of Protestant missionary zeal with Protestant donations of “meal,” certain priests and sisters in the south of Ireland personally instructed the people to avoid all intercourse of any sort with any Roman Catholic who “listened to a Protestant clergyman or a Scripture Reader”; and Sir Francis cites an instance still apparently on hearsay of a “shoemaker at Westport,” who, having seceded from the Church, found that not a single “journeyman dared work for him”; that only “one person would sell him leather”; and, “in short, lost his custom, and rapidly came to a state of starvation.”

On the margin of the pages which record these statements, certain indignant Catholics have pencilled comments, the mildest of which is to the effect that Sir Francis was “a most damnable liar.” It is certainly most unlikely that Catholics should have arrogated to themselves the Church’s function of combating heresy and schism in the fashion described by Sir Francis. But without mooting that question, these expressions are noteworthy as showing how just such proceedings, as are involved in the political “boycottings” of the present day, must be regarded by all honest and clear-headed people who call themselves Catholics; and it is a serious scandal that a parish priest should lay himself open to the imputation of acting in concert with any political body whatever, on any pretext whatever, to encourage such proceedings.

I asked one of the sergeants how the publicans who had signed the guarantee would probably be treated by their townspeople. He replied, there was some talk of their being “boycotted” in their turn by the butchers and bakers. “But it’s all nonsense,” he said, “they are the snuggest (the most prosperous) publicans in this part of the country, and nobody will want to vex them. They have many friends, and the best friend they have is that they can afford to give credit to the country people. There’ll be no trouble with them at all at all!”

Walking about the town, I saw many placards calling for subscriptions in aid of a newsvendor who has been impounded for selling United Ireland. “It’ll be a good thing for him,” said a cynical citizen, to whom I spoke of it, “a good deal better than he’d be by selling the papers.” And, in fact, it is noticeable all over Ireland how small the sales of the papers appear to be. The people about the streets in Ennis, however, seemed to me much more effervescent and hot in tone than the Dublin people are and this on both sides of the question. One very decent and substantial-looking man, when I told him I was an American, assured me that “if it was not for the soldiers, the people of Ennis would clear the police out of the place.” He told me, too, that not long ago the soldiers of an Irish regiment here cheered for Home Rule in the Court-house, “but they were soon sent away for that same.” On the other hand, a Protestant man of business, of whom I made some inquiries about the transmission of an important paper to the United States in time to catch to-morrow’s steamer from Queenstown, spoke of the Home Rulers almost with ferocity, and thought the “Coercion” Government at Dublin ought to be called the “Concession” Government. He was quite indignant that the Morley and Ripon procession through the streets of Dublin should not have been “forbidden.”

There are some considerable shops in Ennis, but the proprietor of one of the best of them says all this agitation has “killed the trade of the place.” I am not surprised to learn that the farmers and their families are beginning seriously to demand that the “reduction screw” shall be applied to other things besides rent. “A very decent farmer,” he says, “only last week stood up in the shop and said it was ’a shame the shopkeepers were not made to reduce the tenpence muslin goods to sixpence!’”

This shopkeeper finds some dreary consolation for the present state of things in standing at his deserted shop-door and watching the doors of his brethren. He finds them equally deserted. In his own he has had to dismiss a number of his attendants. “When a man finds he is taking in ten shillings a day, and laying out three pounds ten, what can he do but pull up pretty short?” As with the shopkeepers, so it is with the mechanics. “They are losing custom all the time. You see the tenants are expecting to come into the properties, so they spend nothing now on painting or improvements. The money goes into the bank. It don’t go to the landlords, or to the shopkeepers, or the mechanics; and then we that have been selling on credit, and long credit too, where are we? Formerly, from one place, Dromoland, Lord Inchiquin’s house, we used regularly to make a bill of a hundred pounds at Christmas, for blankets and other things given away. Now the house is shut up and we make nothing!”

It is a short but very pleasant drive from Ennis to Edenvale and Edenvale itself is not ill-named. The park is a true park, with fine wide spaces and views, and beautiful clumps of trees. A swift river flows beyond the lawn in front of the spacious goodly house a river alive with wild fowl, and overhung by lofty trees, in which many pairs of herons build. A famous heronry has existed here for many years, and the birds are held now by Mr. and Mrs. Stacpoole as sacred as are the storks in Holland. Where the river widens to a lake, fine terraced gardens and espalier walls, on which nectarines, apricots, and peaches ripen in the sun, stretch along the shore. Deer come down to the further bank to drink, and in every direction the eye is charmed and the mind is soothed by the loveliest imaginable sylvan landscapes.

EDENVALE, Sunday, Fe. I was awakened at dawn by the clamour of countless wild ducks, to a day of sunshine as brilliant and almost as warm as one sees at this season in the south of France. Mrs. Stacpoole speaks of this place with a kind of passion, and I can quite understand it. Clearly this, again, is not a case of the absentee landlord draining the lifeblood of the land to lavish it upon an alien soil! The demesne is a sylvan sanctuary for the wild creatures of the air and the wood, and they congregate here almost as they did at Walton Hall in the days of that most delightful of naturalists and travellers, whose adventurous gallop on the back of a cayman was the delight of all English-reading children forty years ago, or as they do now at Gosford. Yet the crack of the gun, forbidden in the precincts of Walton Hall, is here by no means unknown the whole family being noted as dead shots. I asked Mr. Stacpoole this morning whether the park had been invaded by trespassers since the local Nationalists declared war upon him. He said that his only experience of anything like an attack befell not very long ago, when his people came to the house on a Sunday afternoon and told him that a crowd of men from Ennis, with dogs, were coming towards the park with a loudly proclaimed intent to enter it, and go hunting upon the property.

Upon this Mr. Stacpoole left the house with his brother and another person, and walked down to the park entrance. Presently the men of Ennis made their appearance on the highway. A very brief parley followed. The men of Ennis announced their intention of marching across the park, and occupying it.

“I think not,” the proprietor responded quietly. “I think you will go back the way you came. For you may be sure of one thing: the first man who crosses that park wall, or enters that gate, is a dead man.”

There was no show of weapons, but the revolvers were there, and this the men of Ennis knew. They also knew that it rested with themselves to create the right and the occasion to use the revolvers, and that if the revolvers were used they would be used to some purpose. To their credit, be it said, as men of sense, they suddenly experienced an almost Caledonian respect for the “Sabbath-day,” and after expressing their discontent with Mr. Stacpoole’s inhospitable reception, turned about and went back whence they had come.

This morning an orderly from Ennis brought out news of the arrest yesterday, at the Clare Road, of Mr. Lloyd, a Labour delegate from London, on his return from an agitation meeting at Kildysart. Harding, the Englishman I saw awaiting his trial yesterday, became bail for Lloyd.

In the afternoon we took a delightful walk to Killone Abbey, a pile of monastic ruins on a lovely site near a very picturesque lake. The ruins have been used as a quarry by all the country, and are now by no means extensive. But the precincts are used as a graveyard, not only by the people of Ennis, but by the farmers and villagers for many miles around. Nothing can be imagined more painful than the appearance of these precincts. The graves are, for the most part, shallow, and closely huddled together. The cemetery, in truth, is a ghastly slum, a “tenement-house” of the dead. The dead of to-day literally elbow the dead of yesterday out of their resting-places, to be in their turn displaced by the dead of to-morrow. Instead of the crosses and the fresh garlands, and the inscriptions full of loving thoughtfulness, which lend a pathetic charm to the German “courts of peace” instead of the carefully tended hillocks and flower-studded turf which make the churchyard of a typical old English village beautiful, all here is confusion, squalor, and neglect. Fragments of coffins and bones lie scattered among the sunken and shattered stones. We picked up a skull lying quite apart in a corner of the enclosure. A clean round bullet hole in the very centre of the frontal bone was dumbly and grimly eloquent. Was it the skull of a patriot or of a policeman? of a “White-boy” or of a “landlord”?

One thing only was apparent from the conformation of the grisly relic. It was the skull of a Celt. Probably, therefore, not of a land agent, shot to repress his fiduciary zeal, but perhaps of some peasant selfishly and recklessly bent on paying his rent.

While we wandered amid the ruins we came suddenly upon a woman wearing a long Irish cloak, and accompanied by two well-dressed men. One of the men started upon catching sight of Colonel Turner, who was of our party, grew quite red for a moment, and then very civilly exchanged salutations with him. The party walked quietly away on a lower road leading to Ennis. When they had gone Colonel Turner told us that the man who had spoken to him was a local Nationalist of repute and influence in Ennis. “He would never have ventured to be civil to me in the town,” he said. A discussion arose as to the probable object of the party in visiting these ruins. A gentleman who was with us half-laughingly suggested that they might have been putting away dynamite bombs for an attack on Edenvale. Colonel Turner’s more practical and probable theory was that they were looking about for a site for the grave of the Fenian veteran, Stephen J. Meany, who died in America not long ago. He was a native, I believe, of Ennis, and his remains are now on their way across the Atlantic for interment in his birth-place. “Would a processional funeral be allowed for him?” I asked. Colonel Turner could see no reason why it should not be.

One exception I noted to the general slovenliness of the graves. A new and handsome monument had just been set up by a man of Ennis, living in Australia, to the memory of his father and mother, buried here twenty years ago. But this touching symbol of a heart untravelled, fondly turning to its home, had been so placed, either by accident or by design, as to block the entrance way to the vault of a family living, or rather owning property, in this neighbourhood. Until within a year or two past this family had occupied a very handsome mansion in a park adjoining the park of Edenvale. But the heir, worn out with local hostilities, and reduced in fortune by the pressure of the times and of the League, has now thrown up the sponge. His ancestral acres have been turned over for cultivation to Mr. Stacpoole. His house, a large fine building, apparently of the time of James II., containing, I am told, some good pictures and old furniture, is shut up, as are the model stables, ample enough for a great stud; and so another centre of local industry and activity is made sterile.

Near the ruins of Killone is a curious ancient shrine of St. John, beside a spring known as the Holy Well. All about the rude little altar in the open air simple votive offerings were displayed, and Mrs. Stacpoole tells me pilgrims come here from Galway and Connemara to climb the hill upon their knees, and drink of the water. Last year for the first time within the memory of man the well went dry. Such was the distress caused in Ennis by this news, that on the eve of St. John certain pious persons came out from the town, drew water from the lake, and poured it into the well!

As we walked away one of the party pointed to a rabbit fleeing swiftly into a hole in one of the graves. “I was on this hill,” he said, “one day not very long ago when a funeral train came out from Ennis. As it entered the precincts a rabbit ran rapidly across the grounds. Instantly the procession broke up; the coffin was literally dropped to the ground, and the bearers, the mourners, and the whole company united in a hot and general chase of bunny. Of course, I need not say,” he added, “that there was no priest with them. The fixed charge of the priest for a burial is twenty shillings, but there is usually no service at the grave whatever.”

This may possibly be a trace of the practices which grew up under the Penal Laws against Catholics. When Rinuccini came to Ireland in the time of the Civil War, he found the observances of the Church all fallen into degradation through these laws. The Holy Sacrifice was celebrated in the cabins, and not unfrequently on tables which had been covered half-an-hour before with the remains of the last night’s supper, and would be cleared half-an-hour afterwards for the midday meal, and perhaps for a game of cards.

Several guests joined us at dinner. One gentleman, a magistrate familiar with Gweedore, told me he believed the statements of Sergeant Mahony as to the income of Father M’Fadden to fall within the truth. While he believes that many people in that region live, as he put it, “constantly within a hair’s-breadth of famine,” he thinks that the great body of the peasants there are in a position, “with industry and thrift, not only to make both ends meet, but to make them overlap.”

Mr. Stacpoole told us some of his own experiences nearer home. Not long ago he was informed that the National League had ordered some decent people, who hold the demesne lands of his neighbour, Mr. Macdonald (already alluded to) at a very low rental, to make a demand for a reduction, which would have left Mr. Macdonald without a penny of income. To counter this Mr. Stacpoole offered to take the lands over for pasture at the existing rental, whereupon the tenants promptly made up their minds to keep their holdings in defiance of the League.

Last year a man, whom Mr. Stacpoole had regarded as a “good” tenant, came to him, bringing the money to pay his rent. “I have the rint, sorr,” the man said, “but it is God’s truth I dare not pay it to ye!” Other tenants were waiting outside. “Are you such a coward that you don’t dare be honest?” said Mr. Stacpoole. The man turned rather red, went and looked out of all the windows, one after another, lifted up the heavy cloth of the large table in the room, and peeped under it nervously, and finally walked up to Mr. Stacpoole and paid the money. The receipt being handed to him, he put it back with his hand, eyed it askance as if it were a bomb, and finally took it, and carefully put it into the lining of his hat, after which, opening the door with a great noise, he exclaimed as he went out, “I’m very, very sorry, master, that I can’t meet you about it!” This man is now as loud in protestation of his “inability” to pay his rent as any of the “Campaigners.” Mr. Stacpoole thinks one great danger of the actual situation is that men who were originally “coerced” by intimidation into dishonestly refusing to pay just rents, which they were abundantly able to pay, are beginning now to think that they will be, and ought to be, relieved by the law of the land from any obligation to pay these rents.

It seems to be his impression that things look better, however, of late for law and order. On Monday of last week at Ennis an example was made of a local official, which, he thinks, will do good. This was a Poor-Law Guardian named Grogan. He was bound over on Monday last to keep the peace for twelve months towards one George Pilkington. Pilkington, it appears, in contempt of the League, took and occupied, in 1886, a certain farm in Tarmon West. For this he was “boycotted” from that time forth. In December last he was summoned, with others, before the Board of Guardians at Kilrush, to fix the rents of certain labourers’ cottages. While he sat in the room awaiting the action of the Board, Grogan, one of its members, rose up, and, looking at Pilkington, said in a loud voice, “There’s an obnoxious person here present that should not be here, a land-grabber named Pilkington.” There was a stir in the room, and Pilkington, standing up, said, “I am here because I have had notice from the Guardians. If I am asked to leave the place, I shall not come back.” The Chairman of the Board upon this declared that “while the ordinary business of the Board was transacting, Mr. Pilkington would be there only by the courtesy of the Board;” and treating the allusions of Grogan to Pilkington as a part of the business of the Board, he said, “A motion is before the Board, does any one second it?” Another guardian, Collins, got up, and said “I do.” Thereupon the Chairman put it to the vote whether Pilkington should be requested to leave. The ayes had it, and the Chairman of the Board thereupon invited Pilkington to leave the meeting which the Board had invited him to attend!

Grogan has now been prosecuted for the offence of “wrongfully, and without legal authority, using violence and intimidation to and towards George Pilkington of Tarmon West, with a view to cause the said Pilkington to abstain from doing an act which he had a legal right to do, namely, to hold, occupy, and work on a certain farm of land at Tarmon West.”

Plainly this case is one of a grapple between the two Governments which have been and are now contending for the control of Ireland: the Government of the Queen of Ireland, which authorises Pilkington to take and farm a piece of land, and the Government of the National League, which forbids him to do this. Is it possible to doubt which of the two is the government of Liberty, as well as the government of Law?

It illustrates the demoralising influence upon society in Ireland of the protracted toleration of such a contest as has been waging between the authority of the Law and the authority of the League, that, when this case came up for consideration ten days ago, an official here actually thought it ought to be put off. Colonel Turner insisted it should be dealt with at once; and so Mr. Grogan was proceeded against, with the result I have stated.

The trees on this demesne are the finest I have so far seen in Ireland, beautiful and vigorous pencil-cedars, ilexes, Scotch firs, and Irish yews. There is one noble cedar of Lebanon here worth a special trip to see. In conversation about the country to-night, Mr. Stacpoole mentioned that tobacco was grown here, strong and of good quality, and he was much interested, as I remember were also the charming chatelaine of Newtown Anner and Mr. Le Poer of Gurteen four or five years ago, to learn how immensely successful has been the tobacco-culture introduced into Pennsylvania only a quarter of a century ago, as a consequence of the Civil War. The climatic conditions here are certainly not more unfavourable to such an experiment in agriculture than they were at first supposed to be in the Pennsylvanian counties of York and Lancaster. Of course the Imperial excise would deal with it as harshly as it is now dealing with a similar experiment in England. But the Irish tobacco-growers would not now have to fear such hostile legislation as ruined the Irish linen industries in the last century. The “Moonlighters” of 1888 lineally represent, if they do not simply reproduce, the “Whiteboys” of 1760; and the domination of the “uncrowned king” constantly reminds one of Froude’s vivid and vigorous sketch of the sway wielded by “Captain Dwyer” and “Joanna Maskell” from Mallow to Westmeath, between the years 1762 and 1765. On that side of the quarrel there seems to be nothing very new under the sun in Ireland. But the spirit and the forms of the Imperial authority over the country have unquestionably undergone a great change for the better, not only since the last century, but since the accession of Queen Victoria.

Upon the question of land improvements, Mr. Stacpoole told me, to-night, that he borrowed L1000 of the Government for drainage improvements on his property here, the object of which was to better the holdings of tenants. Of this sum he had to leave L400 undrawn, as he could not get the men to work at the improvements, even for their own good. They all wanted to be gangers or chiefs. It reminded me of Berlioz’s reply to the bourgeois who wanted his son to be made a “great composer.” “Let him go into the army,” said Berlioz, “and join the only regiment he is fit for.” “What regiment is that?” “The regiment of colonels.”

In the course of the evening a report was brought out from Ennis to Colonel Turner. He read it, and then handed it to me, with an accompanying document. The latter, at my request, he allowed me to keep, and I must reproduce it here. It tells its own tale.

A peasant came to the authorities and complained that he was “tormented” to make a subscription to a “testimonial” for one Austen Mackay of Kilshanny, in the County Clare, producing at the same time a copy of the circular which had been sent about to the people. It is a cheaply-printed leaflet, not unlike a penny ballad in appearance, and thus it runs:

“Testimonial to Mr. AUSTEN MACKAY, Kilshanny, County Clare.

“We, the Nationalists and friends of Mr. Austen Mackay, at a meeting held in March 1887, agreed and resolved on presenting the long-tried and trusted friend the persecuted widow’s son with a testimonial worthy of the fearless hero who on several occasions had to hide his head in the caves and caverns of the mountains, with a price set on his body. First, for firing at and wounding a spy in his neighbourhood, as was alleged in ’65, for which he had to stand his trial at Clare Assizes. Again, for firing at and wounding his mother’s agent and under-strapper while in the act of evicting his widowed mother in the broad daylight of Heaven, thus saved his mother’s home from being wrecked by the robber agent, the shock of which saved other hearths from being quenched; but the noble widow’s son was chased to the mountains, where he had to seek shelter from a thousand bloodhounds.

“The same true widow’s son nobly guarded his mother’s homestead and that of others from the foul hands of the exterminators. This is the same widow’s son who bravely reinstated the evicted, and helped to rebuild the levelled houses of many; for this he was persecuted and convicted at Cork Assizes, and flung into prison to sleep on the cold plank beds of Cork and Limerick gaols. Many other manly and noble services did he which cannot be made known to the public. At that meeting you were appointed collector with other Nationalists of Clare at home and abroad. This is the widow’s son, Austen Mackay, whom we, the Committee to this testimonial, hope and trust every Irishman in Clare will cheerfully subscribe, that he may be enabled in his present state of health to get into some business under the protection of the Stars and Stripes, where he is a citizen of.”

“Subscriptions to be sent to Henry Higgins, Ennis.

“Treasurers: Daniel O’Loghlen, Lisdoonvarna; James Kennedy, Ennistymon.”

Then follow, with the name of the Society, the names of the committee.

In behalf of the Stars and Stripes, “where he is a citizen of,” I thanked Colonel Turner for this interesting contribution to the possible future history of my country, there being nothing to prevent the election of any heir of this illustrious “widow’s son,” born to him in America, to the Presidency of the Republic. The use of this phrase, the “widow’s son,” by the way, gives a semi-masonic character to this curious circular.

One officer says in his report upon this Committee: “All the persons named are well known to their respective local police, and, except one, have little or no following or influence in their respective localities. They are all members of the National League.” The same officer subjoins this instructive observation: “I beg to add that I find no matter how popular a man may be in Clare, start a testimonial for him, and from that time forth his influence is gone.”

Can it be possible that the “testimonial,” which, as the papers tell me, is getting up all over Ireland for Mr. Wilfrid Blunt, can have been “started” with a sinister eye to this effect, by local patriots jealous of any alien intrusion into their bailiwick? I am almost tempted to suspect this, remembering that a Nationalist with whom I talked about Mr. Blunt in Dublin, after lavishing much praise upon his disinterested devotion to the cause of Ireland, moodily remarked, “For all that, I don’t believe he will do us any good, for he comes of the blood of Mountjoy, I am told!”

EDENVALE, Monday, Fe. This morning Colonel Turner called my attention to the report in the papers of a colloquy between the Chief Secretary for Ireland and Mr. J. Redmond, M.P., in the House, on the subject of last week’s trials at Ennis. In speaking of the boycotting at Milltown Malbay of a certain Mrs. Connell, Mr. Balfour described the case as one of barbarous inhumanity shown to a helpless old woman. Mr. Redmond denying this, asserted that he had seen the woman Connell a fortnight ago in Court, and that so far from her being a decrepit old woman, she was only fifty years of age, hale and hearty, but disreputable and given to drink; he also said she was drunk at the trial, so drunk that the Crown prosecutor, Mr. Otter, was obliged to order her down from the table.

“What are the facts?” I asked. “Mr. Balfour speaks from report and belief, Mr. Redmond asserts that he speaks from actual observation.”

“The facts,” said Colonel Turner quietly, “are that Mr. Balfour’s statement is accurate, and that Mr. Redmond, speaking from actual observation, asserts the thing that is not.”

“Where is this old woman?” I asked. “Would it be possible for me to see her?”

“Certainly; she is at no great distance, and I will with pleasure send a car with an officer to bring her here this afternoon!”

“Meanwhile, how came the old woman into Court? and what is her connection with the cases of boycotting last week tried?”

“Those cases arose out of her case,” said Colonel Turner; “the publicans last week arraigned, ‘boycotted’ a fortnight ago the police and soldiers who were called in to keep the peace during the trial of the dealers who ‘boycotted’ her.

“Her case was first publicly made known by a letter which appeared in the Dublin Express on the 28th of January. That day a line was sent to me from Dublin ordering an inquiry into it. I endorsed upon the order, ‘Please report. I imagine this is greatly exaggerated.’ This was on January 30th. The next day, January 31st, I received a full report from Milltown Malbay. Here it is,” taking a document from a portfolio and handing it to me “and you may make what use you like of it.”

It is worth giving at length:

“James Connell, ex-soldier, and his mother, Hannah Connell, of Fintamore, in this sub-district are boycotted, and have been since July last. James Connell held a farm and a garden from one Michael Carroll, a farmer, who was evicted from his holding for non-payment of three years’ rent, July 14, 1886. After the period of redemption, six months, had passed, the agent made Connell a tenant for his house and garden, giving him in addition about half an acre (Irish) of the evicted farm which adjoins his house. In consequence Connell was regarded by the National League here as a ‘land-grabber.’ About the same time the agent also appointed him a rent-warner.

“On the 22d June last Connell received a letter through the Post-Office threatening him if he did not give up his place as a rent-warner. I have no doubt the letter was written by (here a resident was named). On the 10th, and again on the 17th, of July, Connell was brought before indoor meetings of the National League here for having taken the half acre of land, when he through fear declared he had not done it.

“At the first meeting the Rev. J.S. White, P.P., suggested that in order to test whether Connell had taken the land, Carroll, the evicted tenant, should go and cut the meadowing on it, which he did, when Connell interfered and prevented him. At the next meeting Carroll brought this under notice, and Connell was thereupon boycotted. Immediately afterwards the men who had been engaged fishing for Connell refused to fish, saying that if they fished for him the sale of the fish would be boycotted, which was true.

“Since then Connell has been deprived of his means of livelihood, and no one dare employ him. He, however, through his mother, was able to procure the necessaries of life until about the 22d of November last, when his mother was refused goods by the tradesmen with whom she had dealt, owing to a resolution passed at a meeting of the ‘suppressed’ branch of the League here, to the effect that any person supplying her would be boycotted. December 23d she came into Milltown Malbay for goods, and was refused. The police accompanied her, but no person would supply her. On the 2d of January she came again, when one trader supplied her with some bread, but refused groceries. The police accompanied her to several traders, who all refused. Ultimately she was supplied by the post-mistress. On the 7th of January she came, and the police accompanied her to several traders, all of whom refused her even bread. Believing she wanted it badly, we, the police, supplied her with some. On these three occasions she was followed by large numbers of young people about the street, evidently to frighten and intimidate her, and their demeanour was so hostile that we were obliged to disperse them and protect her home. On a subsequent occasion she stated that stones were thrown at her. Since then she has not come here for goods, and, in my opinion, it would not be safe for her to do so without protection. She and her son are now getting goods from Mrs. Moroney’s shop at Spanish Point, which she opened a few years ago to supply boycotted persons.

“The Connells find it hard to get turf, and are obliged to bring it a distance in bags so that it may not be observed. As for milk, the person who did supply them privately for a considerable time declined some weeks ago to do so any longer. They are now really destitute, as any little money Connell had saved is spent, and, although willing and anxious to work, no person will employ him. Summonses have been issued against the tradesmen for refusing to supply Hannah Connell on the occasions already referred to. I have only to add that I have from time to time reported fully the foregoing facts with regard to the persecution of this poor man and his aged mother; and I regret to say that boycotting and intimidation never prevailed to a greater extent here than at present. Connell’s safety is being looked after by patrols from this and Spanish Point station.”

Three things seem to me specially noteworthy in this tale of cowardly and malignant tyranny. The victims of this vulgar Vehmgericht are neither landlords nor agents. They are a poor Irish labourer and his aged mother. The “crime” for which these poor creatures are thus persecuted is simply that one of them the man chose to obey the law of the land in which he lives, and to work for his livelihood and that of his mother. And the priest of the parish, instead of sheltering and protecting these hunted creatures, is presented as joining in the hunt, and actually devising a trap to catch the poor frightened man in a falsehood.

Upon this third point, a correspondence which passed between Father White and Colonel Turner, after the conviction of the boycotters of Mrs. Connell, and copies of which the latter has handed to me at my request, throws an instructive light.

When the report of January 31st reached him, Colonel Turner ordered the tradespeople implicated in the persecution to be proceeded against. Six of them were put on their trials on the 3d and 4th of February. All the shops in Milltown Malbay were closed, by order of the local League, during the trial, and the police and the soldiers called in were refused all supplies.

On the 4th, one of the persons arraigned was bound over for intimidation, and the five others were sentenced to three months’ imprisonment with hard labour.

A week later, February 11th, Colonel Turner addressed the following letter to Father White, twenty-six publicans of Milltown Malbay having meanwhile been prosecuted for boycotting the police and the soldiers:

“DEAR SIR, I write to you as a clergyman who possesses great influence with the people in your part of the country, to put it to you whether it would not be better for the interests of all concerned if the contemptible system of petty persecution, called boycotting, were put an end to in and about Milltown Malbay, which would enable me to drop prosecutions. If it is not put a stop to, I am determined to stamp it out, and restore to all the ordinary rights of citizenship.

“But I should very greatly prefer that the people should stop it themselves, and save me from taking strong measures, which I should deplore. The story of a number of men combining to persecute a poor old woman is one of the most pitiful I ever heard. I am, sir, yours truly,

ALFRED TURNER.”

As the cost of the extra policemen sent to Milltown Malbay at this time falls upon the people there, this letter in effect offered the priest an opportunity to relieve his parish of a burden as well as to redeem its character.

The next day Father White replied:

“DEAR SIR, No one living is more anxious for peace in this district than I. During very exciting times I have done my best to keep it free from outrage, and with success, except in one mysterious instance. There is but one obstacle to it now. If ever you can advise Mrs. Moroney to restore the evicted tenant, whose rent you admitted was as high as Colonel O’Callaghan’s, I can guarantee on the part of the people the return of good feelings; or, failing that, if she and her employees are content with the goods which she has of all kinds in her own shop, there need be no further trouble.

“I have a promise from the people that the police will be supplied for the future. This being so, if you will kindly have prosecutions withdrawn, or even postponed for say a month, it will very much strengthen me in the effort I am making to calm down the feeling. Regarding Mrs. Connell, the head-constable was told by me that she was to get goods, and she did get bread, till the police went round with her. This upset my arrangements, as I had induced the people to give her what she might really want. In fact she was a convenience to Mrs. Moroney for obvious reasons, and her son is now in her employment in place of Kelly, who has been dismissed since his very inconvenient evidence. It is, and was, well known they were not starving as they said, they having a full supply of their accustomed food. Thanking you for your great courtesy, I am, dear sir, truly yours,

“J. White.”

On the 14th Colonel Turner replied:

“My dear Sir, We cannot adjourn the cases. But if those who are prosecuted are prepared to make reparation by promising future good conduct in Court, I can then see my way to interfere, and to prevent them from suffering imprisonment.

“These cases have nothing whatever to do with Mrs. Moroney. They are simply between the defendants and the police and other officials, who were at Milltown Malbay that day. I am greatly pleased at your evident wish to co-operate with me in calming down the ill-feeling which unfortunately exists, and I am satisfied that success will attend our efforts.”

On Thursday and Friday last, as I have recorded, the cases came on of the twenty-six publicans charged. Between February 4th, when the offences were committed, and the 17th of February, one of these publicans had died, one had fled to America, and there proved to be an informality in the summons issued against a third. Twenty-three only were put upon their trial. As I have stated, one was acquitted and the others were found guilty, and sentenced to be imprisoned. In accordance with his promise made to Father White, Colonel Turner offered to relieve them all of the imprisonment if they would sign an undertaking in Court not to repeat the offence. Ten, the most prosperous and substantial of the accused, accepted this offer and signed, as has been already stated. One, a woman, was discharged without being required to sign the guarantee, the other eleven refused to sign, and were sent to prison. Father White, whose own evidence given at the trial, as his letter to Colonel Turner would lead one to expect, had gone far to prove the existence of the conspiracy, encouraged the eleven in their attitude.

This was his way of “co-operating” with Colonel Turner to “calm down the ill-feeling which exists”!

During the morning Mrs. Stacpoole sent for the clerk and manager of the estate, and asked him to show me the books. He is a native of these parts, by name Considine, and has lived at Edenvale for eighteen years. In his youth he went out to America, but there found out that he had a “liver,” an unpleasant discovery, which led him to return to the land of his birth, and to the service of Mr. Stacpoole. He is perfectly familiar with the condition of the country here, and as the accounts of this estate are kept minutely and carefully from week to week, he was able this morning to show me the current prices of all kinds of farm produce and of supplies in and about Ennis not estimated prices, but prices actually paid or received in actual transactions during the last ten years. I am surprised to see how narrow has been the range of local variations during that time; and I find Mr. Considine inclined to think that the farmers here have suffered very little, if at all, from these fluctuations, making up from time to time on their reduced expenses what they have lost through lessened receipts. The expenses of the landlord have however increased, while his receipts have fallen off. In 1881 Edenvale paid out for labour L466, 0-1/2d., in 1887 L560, 6-1/2d., though less labour was employed in 1887 than in 1881. The wages of servants, where any change appears, have risen. In 1881 a gardener received L14 a year, in 1888 he receives 15s. a week, or at the rate of L39 a year. A housemaid receiving L12 a year in 1881, receives now L17 a year. A butler receiving in 1881 L26 a year, now receives L40 a year. A kitchen maid receiving in 1881 L6, now receives L10, 10s. a year. Meanwhile, the Sub-Commissioners are at this moment cutting down the Edenvale rents again by L190, 3d., after a walk over the property in the winter. Yet in July 1883 Mr. Reeves, for the Sub-Commission, “thought it right to say there was no estate in the County Clare so fairly rented, to their knowledge, or where the tenants had less cause for complaint.” In but one case was a reduction of any magnitude made by the Commission of 1883, and in one case that Commission actually increased the rent from L11, 10s. to L16. In January 1883 the rental of this property was L4065, 5d. The net reduction made by the Commissioners in July 1883 was L296, 14-1/2d.

After luncheon a car came up to the mansion, bringing a stalwart, good-natured-looking sergeant of police, and with him the boycotted old woman Mrs. Connell and her son. The sergeant helped the old woman down very tenderly, and supported her into the house. She came in with some trepidation and uneasiness, glancing furtively all about her, with the look of a hunted creature in her eyes. Her son, who followed her, was more at his ease, but he also had a worried and careworn look. Both were warmly but very poorly clad, and both worn and weatherbeaten of aspect. The old woman might have passed anywhere for a witch, so wizened and weird she was, of small stature, and bent nearly double by years and rheumatism. Her small hands were withered away into claws, and her head was covered with a thick and tangled mat of hair, half dark, half grey, which gave her the look almost of the Fuegian savages who come off from the shore in their flat rafts and clamour to you for “rum” in the Straits of Magellan. Her eyes were intensely bright, and shone like hot coals in her dusky, wrinkled face. It was a raw day, and she came in shivering with the cold. It was pathetic to see how she positively gloated with extended palms over the bright warm, fire in the drawing-room, and clutched at the cup of hot tea which my kind hostess instantly ordered in for her.

This was the woman of whom Mr. Redmond wrote to Mr. Parnell that she was “an active strong dame of about fifty.” When Mr. Balfour, in Parliament, described her truly as a “decrepit old woman of eighty,” Mr. Redmond contradicted him, and accused her of being “the worse for liquor” in a public court.

“How old is your mother?” I asked her son.

“I am not rightly sure, sir,” he replied, “but she is more than eighty.”

“The man himself is about fifty,” said the sergeant; “he volunteered to go to the Crimean War, and that was more than thirty years ago!”

“I did indeed, sir,” broke in the man, “and it was from Cork I went. And I’d be a corpse now if it wasn’t for the mercy of God and the protection. God bless the police, sir, that protected my old mother, sir, and me. That Mr. Redmond, sir, they read me what he said, and sure he should be ashamed of his shadow, to get up there in Parliament, and tell those lies, sir, about my old mother!” I questioned Connell as to his relations with Carroll, the man who brought him before the League. He was a labourer holding a bit of ground under Carroll. Carroll refused to pay his own rent to the landlord. But he compelled Connell to pay rent to him. When Carroll was evicted, the landlord offered to let Connell have half an acre more of land. He took it to better himself, and “how did he injure Carroll by taking it?” How indeed, poor man! Was he a rent-warner? Yes; he earned something that way two or three times a year; and for that he had to ask the protection of the police “they would kill him else.” What with worry and fright, and the loss of his livelihood, this unfortunate labourer has evidently been broken down morally and physically. It is impossible to come into contact with such living proofs of the ineffable cowardice and brutality of this business of “boycotting” without indignation and disgust.

While Connell was telling his pitiful tale a happy thought occurred to the charming daughter of the house. Mrs. Stacpoole is a clever amateur in photography. “Why not photograph this ’hale and hearty woman of fifty,’ with her son of fifty-three?” Mrs. Stacpoole clapped her hands at the idea, and went off at once to prepare her apparatus.

While she was gone the sergeant gave me an account of the trial, which Mr. Redmond, M.P., witnessed. He was painfully explicit. “Mr. Redmond knew the woman was sober,” he said; “she was lifted up on the table at Mr. Redmond’s express request, because she was so small and old, and spoke in such a low voice that he could not hear what she said. Connell had always been a decent, industrious fellow a fisherman. But for the lady, Mrs. Moroney, he and his mother would have starved, and would starve now. As for the priest, Father White, Connell went to him to ask his intercession and help, but he could get neither.”

The sergeant had heard Father White preach yesterday. “It was a curious sermon. He counselled peace and forbearance to the people, because they might be sure the wicked Tory Government would very soon fall!”

Presently the sun came out with golden glow, and with the sun came out Mrs. Stacpoole. It was a job to “pose” the subjects, the old woman evidently suspecting some surgical or legal significance in the machinery displayed, and her son finding some trouble in making her understand what it meant. But finally we got the tall, personable sergeant, with his frank, shrewd, sensible face, to put himself between the two, in the attitude as of a guardian angel; the camera was nimbly adjusted, and lo! the thing was done.

Mrs. Stacpoole thinks the operation promises a success. I suppose it would hardly be civil to send a finished proof of the group to Mr. J. Redmond, M.P.